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Cowboys News: Will Jaylon Smith Come All The Way Back This Season?

Still guessing about Smith’s return, Green Bay loss fuels fire, and the Cowboys roster builder returns!

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Cowboys 53-Man Roster: If You Were GM, What Would Your Roster Look Like? - OCC, BtB

Gotta love the Cowboys’ roster builder!

Many of us take great pleasure in playing GM, constructing our own roster, and making calls on who stays and who goes. Now, you can do just that with our 2017 Dallas Cowboys Roster Builder.

With this tool that was developed by our very own Coty Saxman, you can whittle down the roster from 90 to 53 players, build a practice squad, change player positions and live out your GM fantasies.

Cowboys' playoff loss to Green Bay serving as fuel for 2017 - Todd Archer, ESPN

Let’s hope it drives them to the one place the Cowboys need to be - the Super Bowl. Anything less is falling short of their goal.

“Coming in after a bad year, everybody had a pit in their stomach about, ‘We’re better than that,’ and, ‘How do we get back to [winning]?’” said center Travis Frederick. “This year we also have that pit in our stomach because we’re better than the loss that we had, and we should’ve done better than that. So now it’s about trying to find ways to improve one what we did last year and become the best that we can be.”

Jeff Heath following Barry Church's career path - Todd Archer, ESPN

Is Jeff Heath one of the top two safeties on the Dallas roster? Or will Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier, or even Chidobe Awuzie take some of those snaps? It should be a great competition.

Heath did not start a game a year ago but was credited with 20 stops, an interception and two pass deflections. In Dallas' playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, he recorded a sack, a quarterback pressure, an interception and a pass deflection. He had a second interception wiped out by a holding penalty.

His play against the Packers earned him even more confidence from the coaches and front office, with Executive Vice President Stephen Jones saying it would be a mistake to call Heath a “special-teams player.”

Dallas Cowboys: Is Cowboys' optimism about Jaylon Smith justified or there to give him hope? Why it's a little of both - DMN staff

This may be the biggest question for the Cowboys defense going into the season.

The question to me is is the nerve going to be able to regenerate to the point where he doesn't need a brace. Right now he is practicing with the brace which is on the outside of the knee. But really the biggest part of the brace is it extends under his foot to lift the foot up and keep it up.

If you have to play with that it is going to increase the likelihood of you suffering another injury. A high ankle sprain is a high probability or more likely when you have to play with the bottom of your foot braced and propped up like that. And two, you just don't have the same explosion and power.

I've read different things. People say it reduces your power [and] your speed by anywhere from 25-40 percent depending on where you are as an athlete. I've been told by people and talked to some of the other guys on the Cowboys who watch him work out out there that he's an outrageous athlete. All the other Cowboys I've talked to they put him near the top of the scale as far as the most athletic Cowboys right now.

Ezekiel Elliott hopes to improve by being a dominant second level runner - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram

Can Zeke improve on his rookie season? Let’s hope so.

“I just want to work on being a more dominant, second-level runner,” Elliott said at the Reliant Home Run Derby at Dr. Pepper Ballpark Monday. “I think a couple of times last year I could’ve been more elusive when I got to the second level. I just want to focus on altering my runs.”

Elliott will also become a bigger factor in the Cowboys passing game in 2017. He caught just 32 passes as a rookie. Look for that number to go up as the Cowboys plan to use him more on third downs.

A smiling Dez Bryant shows up late to charity event, focused on season - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram

Dez Bryant missed the Home Run Derby because he went to Globe Life Park in Arlington rather than Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. Have you ever done that?

“I had a little issue,” said a smiling Bryant, who owned his mistake. “I drove out to Arlington. I had more fresh Jordans on, I was ready. Y'all don’t kill me too much my son has already killed me. I was ready to go back to the house. He was like daddy, ‘(Jason) Witten’s kids are here. I want to go. So I come on, I’m going still take you our here.’ We are here to have fun, see the fans and have a good time.”

It made for some good laughs in what now qualifies as a controversy for an older and maturing yet still fallible Bryant.

Position Battles: Defensive Line Pecking Order Is Tough To Figure Out - David Helman, The Mothership

Helman takes a look at the defensive line, and argues that while we may have a pretty good idea of who is going to be playing on the DL, we have no idea who will start, who will line up in which positions or how many snaps they’ll play.

You want to take about position flex – this unit has it. DeMarcus Lawrence has experience playing both left and right defensive end, as does Benson Mayowa. David Irving moved between left defensive end and defensive tackle. Tyrone Crawford has played extensively at those two spots, as well.

Meanwhile, Cowboys officials have expressed confidence that first-round draft pick Taco Charlton can play both end positions, as well as defensive tackle.

The trio of Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton and Stephen Paea are likely to remain inside at defensive tackle – though it’ll be interesting to see how they pair up and who they work with.

Essentially, the Cowboys have a lot of pieces in place heading into the summer. Now, it’s just a matter of determining the best way to use them.

Predicting the best 2017 rookie on all 32 NFL teams - ESPN staff

Shouldn’t be too hard to guess who Todd Archer picked. Who is your choice?

The Cowboys' biggest need entering the draft was pass rush, and they believe Charlton will help solidify a rush that has not been effective enough since DeMarcus Ware's departure following the 2013 season. Second- and third-round cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis have playmaking abilities, but Charlton will have more opportunities because of the need at his position.

NFC East Reset: Eagles, Giants, Skins go the Cowboys way to maximize QBs - Jared Dubin,
When Jerry Jones first talked about a "Romo-friendly offense", he drew derisive sneers from many quarters. Nobody is laughing anymore after seeing what a rookie QB was able to do in the Cowboys' QB-friendly offense, least of all the division rivals.

The Cowboys' division rivals must have taken this success to heart, because they went out this offseason and put forth a great effort to emulate it -- or at least, they sort of did.

This offseason, the Eagles did everything they could to make their offense more Wentz-friendly. The offensive line that protected him so well will return intact, and Pederson seems likely to run the same offense that has been putting Andy Reid's quarterbacks in position to succeed for years on end -- the same one the Eagles ran last season. This time around, Wentz will have some better options to get the ball to.

Up in New Jersey, the Giants might have drafted the player they hope will be Eli Manning's eventual successor (former California quarterback Davis Webb), but they also expended a bunch of resources to put him in better position to succeed as his career winds down.

The Washington offense should once again be loaded up with weapons to help Cousins find success. Josh Doctson sat out much of his rookie year with injury issues and needed some time getting up to speed anyway, but he should factor heavily into the mix this season.

A chunk of the cap room left over after the Garcon and Jackson departures was used to land Terrelle Pryor, who shined in his first extended run as a wideout with Cleveland last season. Along with slot man Jamison Crowder, that gives Cousins three perimeter targets that all test the defense in very different ways. The monster tight end duo of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis will also return, putting even more pressure on opposing linebackers and safeties with their combinations of size, speed and athleticism.

Post NFL Draft Observations: 2017 - Draftblaster
Instead of doing what most mock draft sites and analysts do after the draft - publish the first mock for next year's draft - the guys at Draftblaster took a step back and wrote down their impressions of the draft process and put some thought into how they can improve their own draft coverage. It's a lengthy but interesting read, and this observation stood out:

Team “Chose Not To Address” (fill in the blank) Position of Need:

To be clear, stating that a team did not address a perceived need is perfectly clear reporting, however, stating that they “chose not to address” is passive aggressive, pandering nonsense. It is the type of language that is used by lazy sports writers to try to fire up their readers with the subtle implication that their team is trying not to succeed on purpose.

In reality, it means that the writer identified a need at a position and was very vocal with their opinion. When the team didn’t draft anyone for that position, the writer felt like a fool and when into attack mode. The facts of the matter are A) the draft is one part of the process of team building; B) The draft is only 7 rounds and you can’t reach for players if the draft doesn’t fall exactly as you like, and; C) and most likely, the writer didn’t properly evaluate position needs.

Implying that a team purposely ignored a need is irresponsible and lazy, but an all too common practice for insecure writers.

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